Seven years after an inauspicious one-day international debut, Usman Salahuddin is ready to turn those bitter memories as he gears up to play the second and final Test against England at Leeds starting on Friday.
The 27-year-old will replace Babar Azam who injured his wrist during Pakistan’s nine-wicket win in the first Test at Lord’s.
“It’s exciting,” said Usman. “The win was great and the kind of hard work the team did and the management we were destined to perform, so I will try to do my best. No doubt, it’s a great moment for me. It’s everyone’s dream to play Test for Pakistan.”
Sent to bat at number seven on his ODI debut and then at five, Usman failed to make an impact and had to wait for seven years for another chance in the Pakistan cap.
“Cricket is such a game where you don’t have to get discouraged. The team management did not let me go down, they gave me so much practice and backed me,” said Usman who was part of the squad for the tours of the West Indies and was also part of the 15 against Sri Lanka in UAE last year.
Usman said he has the experience of playing league cricket in England.
“I played in the premier league in New Castle and scored 69 not out so no doubt I have the experience of playing in these conditions,” said Usman, who believes playing late is the key in England.
“I will play according to the situation. I will play my natural game and Insha’Allah do well.
“I think you have to play late because conditions help swing and don’t drive much, you must wait for the bad ball and that’s my strategy,” said Usman whose idol in batting is former Pakistan great Mohammad Yousuf.
“I was inspired by many players but personally I like Mohammad Yousuf and Inzamam-ul-Haq. I follow Asad Shafiq in this team and Babar Azam and also like Virat Kohli.”
Asked if his nikah proved lucky for him, a beaming Usman said: “Marriage changes a life, my nikah was held so it’s a good omen for me.”
Usman said he has set big goals for himself.
“I want to play for long, not for one match and get relax. I want to match Younis Khan’s 10,000 runs. I want to follow Inzamam and play long for Pakistan.”